Even with eight weeks of the season left to play, two of the summer’s prime time transfers sagas are well under way; Real Madrid’s pursuit of David De Gea and the possibility of Gareth Bale heading in the other direction.
The idea that Bale may be available for transfer refuses to go away. United were reported to have made a bid at the time of the winger’s record breaking moved to Madrid back in 2013 and rumours resurfaced last summer.
The Welshman is nearing the end of his second season in the Spanish Capital but if he were available could represent a major coup for Louis Van Gaal.
Former Atletico Madrid star De Gea meanwhile has excelled between the sticks at Old Trafford and could well become United’s Player of the Year for the second consecutive campaign. The stunning nature of his displays make him the heir apparent to Iker Casillas, long term custodian of the Bernabeu, whose career is winding down in Spain.
The Madrid-born goalkeeper is undoubtedly one of United’s best assets at present but would it make sense to allow him to leave if it opened the door to bringing in a player of Bale’s calibre?
Obviously the sums of money involved for two of the world’s top players would be monumental and for that reason alone either deal, or both, could fail to materialise. De Gea’s contract though has just 16 months to run. Should the Red Devils be looking to force the issue?
The answer isn’t straightforward and depends on whether the Old Trafford hierarchy believe they can convince De Gea to sign new terms.
The goalkeeper, younger than Bale by one year, should have at least a decade left at the top of the game. Outfield, Bale might have six or seven years before he starts to slow down.
As talented an individual as the Welshman is, he is a luxury which United would love to have as opposed to a necessity they do have, a world-class keeper.
Consequently the young Spaniard is almost as valuable. It would also be much cheaper to tie him down for the future than to let him go, fork out additional cash for the Cardiff-born man and then go looking about a replacement keeper.
If however, he makes clear his desire to leave, then United can re-evaluate the situation and should potentially look to strike a deal while the iron is hot this summer.
Bale, tied to Madrid until 2019, would command a huge fee but De Gea would account for the lion’s share of this.
If Van Gaal therefore, cannot persuade his prized shot-stopper to sign an extension, then using him as a makeweight to sign the former Tottenham star would be a great Plan B and a real statement of intent.
Real’s interest in De Gea seems, at this early stage, the more likely to come to fruition given the expiry date on his contract and the fact that it would see him return to his homeland.
The two clubs though, have enjoyed a good relationship in the transfer market over the last decade and a half so the swap should not be ruled out.